What Falcon is native to Virginia?

Answered by Jason Smith

The native falcon species found in Virginia is the peregrine falcon. In fact, Virginia is home to two species of falcons, with the other being the American kestrel. The peregrine falcon is particularly fascinating due to its impressive size and hunting abilities.

The peregrine falcon is a magnificent bird of prey known for its incredible speed and agility. It is widely distributed across the world and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. In Virginia, these falcons can be observed nesting and breeding in suitable habitats.

One of the distinguishing features of the peregrine falcon is its size. It is slightly larger than the American kestrel, which happens to be the smallest raptor in North America. The peregrine falcon’s larger size allows it to hunt larger prey and cover greater distances during its aerial pursuits.

The peregrine falcon is also known for its incredible hunting skills. It is considered one of the fastest birds in the world, capable of reaching speeds over 240 miles per hour (386 kilometers per hour) during its hunting dives, known as stoops. This high-speed hunting technique enables the falcon to catch its prey, primarily other birds, in mid-air.

In Virginia, the peregrine falcon can be found nesting in various habitats, including coastal cliffs, rocky outcrops, and tall buildings in urban areas. These birds build their nests, known as eyries, on ledges or in crevices, providing a safe environment for their chicks to grow and develop.

During the winter months, another falcon species, the merlin, is a common visitor to Virginia, particularly in the tidewater region. The merlin is slightly larger than the American kestrel but smaller than the peregrine falcon. It is known for its swift flight and agile hunting techniques.

The peregrine falcon is the native falcon species found in Virginia. Its impressive size, incredible hunting abilities, and choice of nesting habitats make it a fascinating bird to observe in the state. Additionally, the presence of the American kestrel and winter visitor, the merlin, adds to the diversity of falcon species in Virginia.